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Sir Henry Havelock

Sir Henry HavelockBorn: 5-Apr-1795
Birthplace: Sunderland, Durham, England
Died: 24-Nov-1857
Location of death: Lucknow, India
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Military

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Hero of the Indian Mutiny

British soldier, one of the heroes of the Indian Mutiny, the second of four brothers (all of whom entered the army), born at Ford Hall, Bishop-Wearmouth, Sunderland, on the 5th of April 1795. His parents were William Havelock, a wealthy shipbuilder in Sunderland, and Jane, daughter of John Carter, solicitor at Stockton-on-Tees. When about five years old Henry accompanied his elder brother William to Mr. Bradley's school at Swanscombe, from where at the the of ten he removed for seven years to Charterhouse school. In accordance with the desire of his mother, who had died in 1811, he entered the Middle Temple in 1813, studying under Chitty the eminent special pleader. His legal studies having been abridged by a misunderstanding with his father, he in 1815 accepted a second lieutenancy in the Rifle Brigade (95th), procured for him by the interest of his brother William. During the following eight years of service in Britain he read extensively and acquired a good acquaintance with the theory of war. In 1823, having exchanged into the 21st and from there into the 13th light infantry, he followed his brothers William and Charles to India, first qualifying himself in Hindustani under Dr. Gilchrist, a celebrated Orientalist.

At the close of twenty-three years service he was still a lieutenant, and it was not until 1838 that, after three years' adjutancy of his regiment, he became captain. Before this, however, he had held several staff appointments, notably that of deputy assistant-adjutant-general of the forces in Burma until the peace of Yandabu, of which he, with Lumsden and Knox, procured the ratifications at Ava from the "Golden Foot", who bestowed on him the "gold leaf" insignia of Burmese nobility. His first command had been at a stockade capture in the war, and he was present also at the battles of Napadee, Patanago and Pagan. He had also held during his lieutenancy various interpreterships and the adjutancy of the king's troops at Chinsura. In 1828 he published at Serampore Campaigns in Ava, and in 1829 he married Hannah Shepherd, daughter of Dr. Marshman, the eminent missionary. About the same time he became a Baptist, being baptized by Mr. John Mack at Serampore. During the first Afghan war he was present as aide-de-camp to Sir Willoughby Cotton at the capture of Ghazni, on the 23rd of July 1839, and at the occupation of Kabul. After a short absence in Bengal to secure the publication of his Memoirs of the Afghan Campaign, he returned to Kabul in charge of recruits, and became interpreter to General Elphinstone. In 1840, being attached to Sir Robert Sale's force, he took part in the Khurd-Kabul fight, in the celebrated passage of the defiles of the Ghilzais (1841) and in the fighting from Tezeen to Jalalabad. Here, after many months' siege, his column in a sortie en masse defeated Akbar Khan on the 7th of April 1842. He was now made deputy adjutant-general of the infantry division in Kabul, and in September he assisted at Jagdalak, at Tezeen, and at the release of the British prisoners at Kabul, besides taking a prominent part at Istaliff. Having obtained a regimental majority he next went through the Mahratta campaign as Persian interpreter to Sir Hugh (Viscount) Gough, and distinguished himself at Maharajpore in 1843, and also in the Sikh campaign at Moodkee, Ferozeshah and Sobraon in 1845. For these services he was made deputy adjutant-general at Bombay. He exchanged from the 13th to the 39th, then as second major into the 53rd at the beginning of 1849, and soon afterwards left for England, where he spent two years. In 1854 he became quartermaster-general, then full colonel, and lastly ajdutant-general of the troops in India.

In 1857 he was selected by Sir James Outram for the command of a division in the Persian campaign, during which he was present at the actions of Muhamra and Ahwaz. Peace with Persia set him free just as the Mutiny broke out; and he was chosen to command a column "to quell disturbances in Allahabad, to support Lawrence at Lucknow and Wheeler at Cawnpore, to disperse and utterly destroy all mutineers and insurgents." At this time Lady Canning wrote of him in her diary: "General Havelock is not in fashion, but all the same we believe that he will do well. No doubt he is fussy and tiresome, but his little old stiff figure looks as active and fit for use as if he were made of steel." But in spite of this lukewarm commendation Havelock proved himself the man for the occasion, and won the reputation of a great military leader. At Fatehpur, on the 12th of July, at Aong and Pandoobridge on the 15th, at Cawnpore on the 16th, at Unao on the 29th, at Busherutgunge on the 29th and again on the 5th of August, at Boorhya on the 12th of August, and at Bithur on the 16th, he defeated overwhelming forces. Twice he advanced for the relief of Lucknow, but twice prudence forbade a reckless exposure of troops wasted by battle and disease in the almost impracticable task. Reinforcements arriving at last under Outram, he was enabled by the generosity of his superior officer to crown his successes on the 25th of September 1857 by the capture of Lucknow. There he died on the 24th of November 1857, of dysentery, brought on by the anxieties and fatigues connected with his victorious march and with the subsequent blockade of the British troops. He lived long enough to receive the intelligence that he had been created K.C.B. for the first three battles of the campaign; but of the major-generalship which was shortly afterwards conferred he never knew. On the 26th of November, before tidings of his death had reached England, letters-patent were directed to create him a baronet and a pension of 1000 a year was voted at the assembling of parliament. The baronetcy was afterwards bestowed upon his eldest son; while to his widow, by royal order, was given the rank to which she would have been entitled had her husband survived and been created a baronet. To both widow and son pensions of 1000 were awarded by parliament.

Father: William Havelock (shipbuilder)
Mother: Jane Carter
Brother: William
Wife: Hannah Shepherd (m. 1829)

    High School: Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey

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